I have wept a bucket of tears over the past few weeks.
A few days before Christmas we took our annual batch of Coconut Date Balls
over to our friends the Lockharts only to learn that Becky was very ill and resting.
At that point in time the family didn't know what was wrong.
It didn't settle well with me because Becky rarely got ill.
Little did we know that a few short weeks later she would be gone.
She died from a rare neurodegenerative disease known as CJD.
It strikes one in a million.
(Over the past couple of years 5 friends have passed on.
Melanie, Amy, Shannon, Camille, and now Becky.
All young, beautiful, vibrant women and mothers.
All younger than me.
I have grieved selfishly for my own loss, but mostly I have grieved for their husbands and children.)
Governor Herbert ordered all flags throughout the state to fly at half-mast for two days.
(Cammy took this photo of the roundabout on Center Street where
Becky rode for many years in the Provo Independence Day Parade.)
*This blog has always been for me; some therapy if you will.
It has no rhyme or reason.
Merely a place to express my thoughts.
So dear reader, if you are still reading,
please understand my self-indulgence.
Becky was one of my very first friends when our family moved into her neighborhood.
We have been friends for over 21 years.
To several who know me in recent years this may come as a surprise.
Our friendship was quiet and not often in the public eye.
It was one of mutual respect, sharing ideas and understanding each other's hearts.
Becky understood me more than some because she and I
shared similar challenges in regards to our personalities:
Rising to the expectations of social events, and afterwards needing solitude to recharge.
In those early days Becky was nervous to even give prayers or talks in church.
Quite a remarkable thing to consider in that she made history as the
first woman Utah Speaker of the House.
During her 16 years in the Legislature she gave many eloquent and passionate speeches.
It was fun to sit and watch her in action the few times I sat in the
gallery of the House Chambers.
This past year we had both read the book
'Quiet: The Power of Introverts'
by Susan Cain.
I was so looking forward to discussing it with her once she had more 'free time'
after retiring from the Legislature.
Becky's sanctuary for recharging her battery was in her sewing room.
She loved being in that room.
She made beautiful quilts over the years and gifted them to many.
I was delighted to receive this lovely one from her which she titled
(Just this past fall my husband and I had decided to redecorate one of our daughter's rooms
since she has moved away from home and I had been anxious to use this quilt for the focal point
of colors for the room.)
Becky and I had many times to hang out together over the years
from our daughters being together in a playgroup,
to our husbands serving together in two different tenures of a demanding church calling.
I especially treasure many memories with her during the 5 years before she became a legislator.
Being 10 years older than Becky we would tease about our 'generation gap' when it came to
our love of rock bands; me a 70's girl and she an 80's,
though we did agree that Steve Perry of 'Journey' had the ultimate rock voice.
Many of our conversations revolved around books and movies.
Both of us loved fantasy and science fiction growing up especially
J.R.R. Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' books
and later the Harry Potter series.
We also loved talking about our children, the gospel,
her experiences as a nurse and mine as a teacher.
Politics was only rarely in the mix when she would ask for my opinion.
For a few years we were in a progressive dinner group with several young couples.
Becky and I would compete to be the house to host the games or the babysitting
because neither of us liked to cook and didn't want that responsibility.
Regarding the 'Christmas Coconut Date Balls' I mentioned earlier,
Becky absolutely loved them. (One of the few treats I could make well.)
She told me they were a taste of heaven
and something she eagerly awaited each year. She knew they were a highly guarded recipe
that was passed down from my mother and one that I never shared outside our family.
Becky was always trying sneakily to get that recipe from my daughters.
It became a running joke.
One year for a Young Women in Excellence event, my daughter Coryn had prepared
a beautiful recipe book for her project.
When Becky saw that Coryn's display was a recipe book she practically leapt
across the table, grabbed the book and started rapidly turning the pages,
obviously looking for the coveted recipe.
We still laugh about that moment in our house.
Over the years Becky and I commiserated about our weight loss frustrations among other things
but she always told me,
"I don't care if I'm on a diet. You must bring me those date balls every year!"
And I did.
(Emily Britton speaking at the public memorial at the Utah State Capitol)
Becky loves her family fiercely and always made them her priority
despite the demands of her public service.
I saw several occasions where she dropped things to be at their events or activities
It is evident that her mothering, teaching and loving, along with her husband Stan's
have made a deep impression on her children
as was apparent in their words about their mother this past week.
Here are a sampling of some of those sentiments:
Emily Lockhart Britton
(In regard to family political discussions ) "Instead of discouraging our childish input,
my mom would ask for our perspective."
"My mom was a great example of how to choose good in a world of evil."
"I know that there is another chapter, and whenever my time comes and the Lord is ready to take me,
my mom will be there to pick me up."
"My mom was busy but found her most joy with our family. She'd know just the right thing
to say. She showed me how to be kind, taught me correct principles and that people
aren't perfect. I admired her conviction and wanted to soak in her knowledge.
I know my mom will always be my mom, and I have no doubt I will see her again.
I am comforted knowing my mom is feeling joy now.
I know more now, than I ever have before, that families are forever."
Elder Stephen Lockhart
(Serving in the Virginia Richmond Mission. Stephen wrote a letter which was read at the funeral.)
"She was my greatest example. She had little fear and she was bold. I am confident my mom died the kind of person God wanted her to be. When God called me on a 24-month mission he knew this would happen. She taught me to press forward with steadfastness in Christ. I would not stay on my mission if I didn't know what my mother taught me as a child was true.. Now I must exercise my faith and put my trust in God. I am now serving my mission for God, Christ and my mom."
(Becky and Stan's son-in-law)
*Knowing the Becky that I do, I especially loved these words from Max:
"Yesterday at the memorial, I kept hearing the term 'Iron Lady' and references to Margaret Thatcher, and if that is all you knew her as, I'm so sorry.
It was such a small percentage of who she was. And even when she was an iron lady,
it was with love. Whether she was butting heads with the governor or the senate or her favorite
punching bag, Stan, she didn't do it with hate; she loved the process and she loved to be able to serve.
She was one of the few complete persons I have met in my life.
I learned from her to strive to be the best version of yourself."
Photo: Matt Throckmorton
Becky was one of the last members of the 'Old Cowboy Caucus' in the
Utah House of Representatives.
Utah House of Representatives.
It was only fitting that her 'final ride' would be in a horse-drawn carriage.
Photo: Sam Penrod
(Former State Representative Bill Wright drives the carriage with Hannah and her dad Stan.)
"I'm not the judge, but from my vantage point I think Becky has proven herself.
Our family is mindful we are not alone in our grief. We are all born and we all die. Today is about rejoicing.
She is my eternal companion and families are forever.
On one hand she would be upset with all this attention.
She would say; 'Take an Advil, buck up and get on with it.'
She would want us to do what is necessary to get back to what is important in life.
She has been my equal, my partner.
We were always teasing. Half of the fun was to see if I could get her irritated with me.
She was my rock."
In closing Stan offered these words:
"Make God more important in your life. Treat your spouse better.
Cherish time with your family.
Tell them you're sorry.
You never know. You never know."
I love this photo of Stan and Becky taken at our daughter Coryn's wedding in December 2013.
The funeral honoring Becky was one of the most exquisite, spiritual,
testimony strengthening, gospel-focused, classy services I have ever attended.
I left filled to the brim and wanting to be a much better person.
Thank you Becky (and family) for your example, your goodness, your strength and your friendship.
'Til we meet again.